In the coming months, residents and visitors in the Americas are in for a treat as they will have the chance to witness two rare celestial events. The excitement kicks off with a “ring of fire” solar eclipse scheduled for this Saturday.
A “ring of fire” eclipse happens when the moon comes between the Earth and the sun, as explained by NASA, the US space agency. This weekend’s event is a partial ring of fire eclipse, and it serves as a prelude to a total solar eclipse set for April.
This captivating celestial phenomenon earns its name from the moon positioning itself in front of the sun, creating the appearance of a fiery ring. Unlike a total solar eclipse, during which the moon completely obscures the sun, in this case, the moon appears smaller due to its greater distance from Earth. As a result, it doesn’t entirely block the sun, creating the striking ring effect.
The upcoming ring of fire eclipse will be visible to observers situated along a path stretching from Oregon to Texas. In the United States, it will commence at 9:13 AM PT on the Oregon coast and conclude at 12:03 PM CT in Texas. Among the US cities along the eclipse’s path, San Antonio is the largest and is gearing up to welcome an influx of eager viewers.
While parts of Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Alaska will witness a partial eclipse, they won’t experience the ring of fire effect, according to NASA.
Looking ahead to next year, an equally spectacular solar eclipse is on the horizon. On April 8th, sky gazers will have the opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse. The “path of totality,” where the sun will be entirely obscured by the moon, spans 15 miles (185 kilometers) and extends from northern Mexico to eastern Canada. This path will traverse 13 US states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
NASA notes that another total solar eclipse won’t be visible until August 23, 2044. The agency emphasizes the importance of safety during eclipse viewing, urging spectators to wear specialized solar filters to protect their eyes. It is only safe to remove these special filtered glasses once the moon fully covers the visible surface of the sun.
These celestial events, apart from their awe-inspiring nature, also offer unique opportunities for scientific study, allowing researchers to delve into the intricacies of the sun’s interactions with Earth. Additionally, they may have effects on animal life, creating the illusion of dusk and causing temporary drops in temperature.